Friday, March 20, 2009

Censoring Weblinks Is Oppression

News out of Australia is that their government will begin to fine people who happen to visit banned hyperlinks that are part of their official, yet secret, blacklisting program.

Wikileaks has been infuriating agencies large and small by publishing copies of national Internet blacklists, giving the tech-savvy portion of the population a view into this vile, creeping practice.

Denmark and Thailand, in addition to Australia, have found their blacklists posted, much to their chagrin.

These blacklists are spun up ostensibly to clamp down on links involving illegal activity, such as child pornography. Once exposed to the bright light of day, the fallacy of these pronouncements becomes clear, as the breadth of censorship becomes clear. Sites involving gambling, sex, violence, drug use, crime, and cruelty also fall into the filter, and in some cases, websites that contain content critical of government agencies or political policies also get added to the list. That's a slippery slope, as history has demonstrated.

It's a disturbing trend. We're seeing both private and government censorship of Internet sites, coupled with warrant-less government monitoring and deep packet inspection of worldwide traffic.

Reporters Without Borders has accused 12 countries of internet censorship, as reported by the Voice of America site:

The nations cited were China, Burma, North Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Tunisia.

The report alleged these countries not only restrict access to Web sites, but also persecute some computer users for what they post online.

Throughout history, citizens have always had more to fear from an oppressive, unchecked government than they have from nefarious characters among us. The question remains: Why do we allow this to happen repeatedly?

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